Gateway Project Should Include Fraser Valley Interurban

A story this week in the Vancouver Courier highlights what is missing from the Gateway project: the expansion of public transit.

I'd say the highlight of the article is a discussion about reviving the Interurban lines out to the valley, and that SkyTrain development should cease. Jordan Bateman, a spokesman for Get Moving BC - a citizen's group organized in support of the Gateway project:

I'd love to support high density projects, but first we need to invest in transit to get people moving," says Bateman. "Local traffic tries to avoid Highway One, which drives traffic to side roads. Much of our infrastructure, especially our bridges, is at the end of its life cycle. I don't support the extension of SkyTrain to the valley; it's way too expensive. For the same amount of money we could have 175 kilometres of light rail as 11 new kilometres of SkyTrain. A study of local transit needs is badly needed, but I think we are ready today to revive the old Interurban.

While this is well known to light rail enthusiasts, Bateman is one of the last people I'd expect this from. Perhaps it's intended as a carrot to dangle in front of the transit freaks.

Get Moving BC, being 'pro-gateway' and offering organized, vocal support to the twinning of the bridge, has been accused of being a mouthpiece of the Liberal government. It was a fresh surprise to see discussion of the Interurban and light rail coming from their only member to appear in the story.

Other interesting points:

  • the Ministry of Transportation is going to undertake a review of transit in the valley
  • John VanDongen, Abbotsford-Clayburn MLA, has been lobbying his own government to revive the Vancouver-Chilliwack Interurban line.
  • While it might be said that opposition to the project is a bit late at this point in the game, public consultation was kept to a discussion of various design points rather than overarching infrastructure options, and most of the project has not yet been built. The discussion can still take place.